House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., is calling on President Joe Biden to replace the head of the Internal Revenue Service Charles Rettig after an audit showed the agency destroyed data relating to some 30 million paper tax returns.
“The IRS is vital to public confidence in our nation and its Trump-appointed leader has failed,” CNBC reported Pascrell, chair of the oversight subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, said. “This latest revelation adds to the public’s plummeting confidence in our unfair two-tier tax system.”
According to the May 4 audit, the agency had to destroy some 30 million paper-filed returns in March 2021 to keep up with the backlog created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We processed 3.2 billion information returns in 2020,” the agency responded in a statement to CNBC. “Information returns are not tax returns, and they are documents submitted to the IRS by third-party payors, not taxpayers. There were no negative taxpayer consequences as a result of this action. Taxpayers or payers have not been and will not be subject to penalties resulting from this action.”
According to the agency, 99% of the needed information in the documents had already been processed before they were destroyed, and the remaining 1% was destroyed because of a “software limitation,” CNBC reported.
Rettig was appointed commissioner of the agency by former President Donald Trump in 2018 and has stayed on the job under Biden’s Democrat administration.
According to the agency, Rettig oversees a workforce of around 80,000 employees and has an annual budget of around $11 billion.
The agency collects around $3.5 trillion in revenue annually, representing 96% of the country’s total gross receipts.
During the pandemic, the agency closed 90% of its facilities due to the health crisis but was still able to process more than 163 million individual returns that year.
Pascrell, however, said Rettig’s leadership showed incompetence and a “lackadaisical” attitude.
“That confidence cannot recover if all the American people see at the IRS is incompetence and catastrophe,” Pascrell told CNBC. “The manner by which we are learning about the destruction of unprocessed paperwork is just the latest example of the lackadaisical attitude from Mr. Rettig.”
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
Tax preparers told the news outlet that destroying the documents could delay refunds going out because there is not a way to verify information those documents contained.
“I was horrified when I read the report describing the destruction of paper-filed information returns,” Phyllis Jo Kubey, president of the New York State Society of Enrolled Agents told CNBC.
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